Recent robberies debase confidence in safety



Column by Austin Schmitt. E-mail [email protected]

Maybe Michael Mitchell had the right idea. For those of you who forgot or did not see, Mitchell is the UK epidemiology graduate student and anesthesia technician who was fired by the University in January of 2010 for having a firearm in his car.

Maybe he knew something other students did not ever see coming.

Safety is the one issue everyone assumes will take care of itself but one nobody pays attention to until a lapse occurs. Students walk at night all the time around this campus, whether it be by themselves or in a group.  Should they have to worry about being robbed? The answer is no and the answer should always be no.

So why did the robberies occur? How did we get to this point?

A February 5, 2009 Kernel editorial stated that this campus is safe and generally, each student would probably agree with that.

But almost two years later, we are at a crossroads. Just as funding shortages hurt the education quality, funding shortages are hurting campus safety. Education and safety are two completely different issues. The mind power and innovation of students’ brains can overcome an education funding shortage but when it comes to the lives and well-being of the students on this campus, you are rolling the wrong dice.

It’s not fair for students (or their parents who pay thousands of dollars to send their children here) to have to worry about whether or not they will make it home from the library at night. You can price an education, but you can’t price a life — and that is precisely the gamble UK is taking.

It’s time to step up, UK Police and Lexington Police. Focus on the safety of students, not breaking up parties at every opportunity possible.

I want to see substantial change. I do not want to see a video from John Calipari telling me how to be safe. Let’s get real now, everyone loves Calipari, but for him to address the situation before the UK police is pretty sad.

Although the one thing that should really make students mad is the non-response by UK Police and UK Police Chief Joe Monroe’s comment that students should not travel alone.

“All of the victims have been isolated and alone,” Monroe said in a Sept. 24 Kernel article. “That’s one of the safety precautions we always recommend — that you don’t walk alone, that you don’t put yourself in a situation where you’re going to be by yourself.”

Why can’t students walk alone?  This campus is a place of learning, not Gotham City. A college campus should be a safe place where students can travel with or without another individual and not have to worry about being robbed at gunpoint.

I suppose the new precedent, though, is five robberies, and then it’s time to do something. Driving through campus Thursday evening, I saw the effects of this change in security, but it made me wonder, why didn’t this occur earlier? Why did it take five robberies for UK Police to evoke change? It only took Calipari four robberies before he decided it was enough.

Students, you need to start asking the questions. Ask your campus police why there were five robberies before the issue was addressed. When UK alerts come out and students just brush them off, you know you have a problem on your hands.

Maybe we should have taken Michael Mitchell’s actions as a warning of what was to come. He had the right idea: you can’t count on others to provide safety.

After five robberies in two weeks, it may be time to start taking things in your own hands. Who can you trust?